Every young tree needs a stake before it can stand upright under its own weight. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recently announced two new initiatives to help the budding green building movement put down its own set of roots.

The NAHB announced the tandem projects during the 2008 International Builders Show in Orlando, Fla., in February 2008. The NAHB National Green Building Program, an education, verification and certification program, will enable U.S. builders anywhere to build green homes.

The program features an online scoring tool at the NAHB Web site, www.nahbgreen.org. The tool shows the builder how to accrue points in seven categories that include water, energy and resource efficiency; site development; indoor environmental quality; global impact; and homeowner education. The program sets point requirements in each category for three levels: bronze, silver and gold.

Homes are inspected and verified by local green experts, and the documentation is sent to the NAHB Research Center for review. If the project qualifies, the home can receive national certification from the research center.

The program also features new, expanded resources from NAHB, which local home builders’ associations may use to provide education, advocacy and promotional assistance to their green building members.

At the same time, the builders group announced its new National Green Building Standard, touting it as the first and only true consensus-based standard for residential green building. According to the NAHB, the standard will maintain the flexibility of green building practices while providing a common national benchmark for builders, remodelers and developers. The green building movement needs to achieve a common language and purpose for like-minded members of the home-building industry.

The standard is in its final comment period and is expected to be approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and published by NAHB and the International Code Council (ICC) in early spring 2008.

It is based on the three-year-old NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines, but enhanced to include residential remodeling, multifamily building, and lot and site development. It also reflects advancements in requirements in the International Residential Code and other changes that reflect the evolving nature of green building.

Like the guidelines on which they are based, the standard requires builders to include features in seven categories: energy, water and resource efficiency; site development; indoor environmental quality; and homeowner education. It also adds the higher emerald level to the guidelines’ bronze, silver and gold certification levels.